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Case Name Gambuzza v. Parmenter JC-FL-0019
Docket / Court 8:09-cv-01891 ( M.D. Fla. )
State/Territory Florida
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Case Summary
On June 29, 2009, two inmates at the Manatee County Jail filed a pro se lawsuit in the Middle District Court of Florida challenging the constitutionality of the jail’s new mail policy. The inmates filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated at the jail, ... read more >
On June 29, 2009, two inmates at the Manatee County Jail filed a pro se lawsuit in the Middle District Court of Florida challenging the constitutionality of the jail’s new mail policy. The inmates filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated at the jail, alleging that the new policy, which only allowed inmates to receive post-cards, was unconstitutional. Additionally, the plaintiffs alleged that jail personnel were opening their privileged mail and were allowing trainees to search legal bins and legal mail without the owner being present, and that the defendants were violating their constitutional rights by allowing trainees to perform training exercises on them and other prisoners, including cavity searches. The plaintiffs asked the court for injunction and declaratory judgment claiming violations of the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

On July 8, 2009, the case was dismissed without prejudice, because the plaintiffs raised several unrelated claims in the same complaint. Plaintiffs filed an amended pro se complaint on July 24, 2009, which only challenged the Manatee County Jail mail policy. The Court dismissed the amended complaint without prejudice because the plaintiffs were proceeding pro se and were purporting to bring a class action for themselves and all others similarly situated.

On September 4, 2009, the plaintiffs filed a pro se 42 U.S.C. § 1983 complaint on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, alleging that the new mail policy at Manatee County Jail and the Defendants' practice of opening privileged mail and censoring the newspaper given to inmates violated the plaintiffs' constitutional rights.

The court appointed pro bono counsel to the Plaintiffs on October 26, 2009. Plaintiffs' counsel filed an amended complaint on February 18, 2010, claiming that the new mail policy violated the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights of the inmates and the inmates family members and friends. The plaintiffs' group included two inmates and two family members of inmates. The plaintiffs sought injunctive relief.

On April 15, 2010, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiffs' complaint. Later, on May 12, 2010, the defendants filed a motion to disqualify Judge Kovachevich for bias or prejudice. The defendants alleged that one of Judge Kovachevich's staff attorneys undertook a factual investigation regarding the plaintiffs' claim. Allegedly, the staff attorney contacted the jail and requested legal precedent regarding the defendants' mail policy. Additionally, the defendants claimed that the staff attorney made a sua sponte request for counsel to represent the plaintiffs.

On May 28, 2010 Judge Elizabeth A. Kovachevich dismissed the plaintiffs' complaint. The court held that postcard only mail policies were reasonably related to penological interests and cited precedent from the Middle District of Florida. Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. at 85, 107 S.Ct. 2254 (1987).

On June 23, 2010, the plaintiffs filed a motion for reconsideration of the case. Specifically the plaintiffs argued that the case should be reconsidered because the case was dismissed while there was a pending motion for the recusal of Judge Kovachevich. Furthermore, the court dismissed the case sua sponte before the defendants explained why their practices carried out a legitimate penological interest, nor were the plaintiffs allowed to present evidence to the contrary.

On March 11, 2011 the court issued an order to have both parties report on whether the case was moot before ruling on the plaintiffs’ motion for reconsideration. The order stated that both inmates had been released from the jail and that any argument for granting injunctive relief on account that the plaintiffs might be future inmates was without merit. The plaintiffs’ counsel responded on March 25, 2011 and argued that the case was not moot because the plaintiffs still had standing to seek injunctive and declaratory relief on behalf of the proposed class of persons similarly situated. On March 29, 2011 the defendants responded that the claims were moot because the plaintiffs were no longer inmates and thus no longer had a personal stake in the matter. As of October 15, 2016, there are no new orders regarding the motion, and the Manatee County Jail still has a strict post-card old policy in place.

Joe Reiter - 05/12/2011
Maurice Youkanna - 07/04/2014
Abigail DeHart - 10/14/2016


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Freedom of speech/association
General
Assault/abuse by staff
Mail
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Manatee County Jail
Plaintiff Description Two inmates at the Manatee County Jail in Palmetto, Florida.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Unknown
Additional Resources
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Case Studies After Decision: Implementation of Judicial Decrees in Correctional Settings
Written: Oct. 01, 1977
By: M. Kay Harris & Dudley P. Spiller (Temple University)
Citation: (1977)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ]

Docket(s)
8:09−cv−01891 (M.D. Fla.) 09/14/2012
JC-FL-0019-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Order 09/21/2009 (M.D. Fla.)
JC-FL-0019-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT 02/18/2010
JC-FL-0019-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
DEFENDANTS MOTION TO DISMISS (AND MEMORANDUM OF LAW) 04/15/2010
JC-FL-0019-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR DISQUALIFICATION FOR BIAS OR PREJUDICE (And Memorandum of Law) 05/12/2010
JC-FL-0019-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
ORDER 05/28/2010 (2010 WL 2179029 / 2010 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 60444) (M.D. Fla.)
JC-FL-0019-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION AND RECUSAL 06/23/2010
JC-FL-0019-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 03/11/2011 (M.D. Fla.)
JC-FL-0019-0007.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Memorandum of Law in Response to the Court's Order of March 11, 2011, Regarding Mootness 03/25/2011
JC-FL-0019-0008.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Response to the Court's Order to Show Cause 03/29/2011
JC-FL-0019-0009.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants' Memorandum of Law Regarding Mootness 03/30/2011
JC-FL-0019-0010.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Kovachevich, Elizabeth Anne (M.D. Fla.)
JC-FL-0019-0005 | JC-FL-0019-0007 | JC-FL-0019-9000
McCoun, Thomas B. III (M.D. Fla.) [Magistrate]
JC-FL-0019-9000
Whittemore, James D. (M.D. Fla.)
JC-FL-0019-0002
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Berg, Randall Challen Jr. (Florida)
JC-FL-0019-0006 | JC-FL-0019-0008 | JC-FL-0019-9000
Felman, James E (Florida)
JC-FL-0019-0001 | JC-FL-0019-9000
Glickman, Joshua Aaron (Florida)
JC-FL-0019-0006 | JC-FL-0019-0008 | JC-FL-0019-9000
Heller, Shawn Alex (Florida)
JC-FL-0019-0006 | JC-FL-0019-0008 | JC-FL-0019-9000
Walbot, Sylvia H (Florida)
JC-FL-0019-0006 | JC-FL-0019-0008 | JC-FL-0019-9000
Yanes, Katherine Earl (Florida)
JC-FL-0019-0001 | JC-FL-0019-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Giuffreda, Richard A (Florida)
JC-FL-0019-0003 | JC-FL-0019-0004 | JC-FL-0019-9000
Scarberry, Jason Lee (Florida)
JC-FL-0019-0003 | JC-FL-0019-0004 | JC-FL-0019-0009 | JC-FL-0019-0010 | JC-FL-0019-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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